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Workflow Apps for Business Managers

Siemens Brazil blazes a best practices path to deliver work flow applications on mobile devices

As enterprise IT departments scramble to meet demand for more mobile applications, many are charting entirely new terrain. Lessons from applications development and support from PCs and notebooks don't necessarily provide a guide for the mobile tier.

Indeed, mobile apps are very different in what end users expect from them. So how to learn new best practices and simultaneously meet the demand for rapid mobile apps development?

Siemens Brazil in São Paulo has learned several valuable lessons from its mobile app development experiments and subsequent full roll-out of high-demand work flow apps for business managers.

BriefingsDirect had an opportunity to learn first-hand how Siemens Brazil has succeeded at its initial mobile apps at the recent HP Discover 2013 Conference in Barcelona when we interviewed Alexandre Padeti, IT Consultant and Applications Integration Technician with Siemens Brazil. The discussion is moderated by me, Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.

Here are some excerpts:

Gardner: Tell us about what Siemens Brazil. Then let's learn about your transition to mobile applications.

Padeti: Siemens Brazil is a public utilities engineering company in Brazil, responsible for 50 percent of the energy transmission in Brazil. With the mobility scenario within Siemens Brazil, we’re just starting right now to implement them in our field applications.

Padeti

Gardner: What types of applications have you targeted first for moving out to the mobile tier?

Padeti: The main applications that we are working with at the moment is Workflow Approval, which integrates with our back-end SAP ERP system. We’re trying to give the managers mobility, the option to make their approval on an ongoing daily basis in a different way.

Real-time basis

Gardner: So it's more important to have workflow approved and managed on a real-time basis, wherever these individuals are and whatever device they happen to be using?

Padeti: Yes. These are the main points of the solution. We’re trying to give this especially to our managers, who are used to being in meetings or moving from one place to another. They gain the ability to make this kind of approval on the go.

Gardner: Why didn’t you just make these applications internally, customize them, host them, and deliver them? What was missing from your being able to do this all yourselves?

Padeti: In the beginning, we were looking for a tool that gave us the freedom to develop for any device. That's the main reason that we chose HP Anywhere. We have the freedom now to choose -- or give the freedom to the users to choose -- the device.

Gardner: Tell us a little bit about that process of adoption. You've had a proof of concept (POC) phase?

Padeti: Initially we had a POC with HP Anywhere together with HP Brazil and a local partner. From the beginning, it was well-suited. So we decided to go with HP Anywhere in production, and now we’re running a project that will cover nearly 200 users by the end of January.

Gardner: Do you think this will lead to more applications and more mobile users? Does this seem to be a larger undertaking with movement toward even more mobility?

We’re quite sure that 90 percent of the devices will be running on Android and a small percentage on iOS.

Padeti: Yes, that's for sure. This will become bigger in Siemens Brazil, because it's a change of the mindset of the users. They will begin to change the way they’re thinking about requesting solutions from the IT department. In the future, I believe that we’ll have a lot of requirements to develop more such mobile applications.

The standard for Siemens Brazil is based on Android. So we’re quite sure that 90 percent of the devices will be running on Android and a small percentage on iOS.

Gardner: As you've gone through this process, are there any lessons learned that you could share for other organizations? What lessons have you learned, or what advice could you offer them?

Small processes

Padeti: The first one would be to think first about smaller processes. At Siemens Brazil, we’re starting with a not-so-big process. We’re using a not-so-complex one to start. This is a good thing to engage the users and allow them to be comfortable, and furnish proof of use on the solution.

The next one would be to talk a lot with the users, because in our case we have requirements that the user could not think of before. We're learning constantly about what is possible with mobility.

When you give to them the freedom with the mobility, new ideas will come up.

I really advise you to talk with the users and know what they want, because most of the times they don’t come up with an idea until they use mobile, because they’re only thinking initially of desktop or notebook PCs. So when you give to them freedom with mobility, new ideas come up.

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At Interarbor Solutions, we create the analysis and in-depth podcasts on enterprise software and cloud trends that help fuel the social media revolution. As a veteran IT analyst, Dana Gardner moderates discussions and interviews get to the meat of the hottest technology topics. We define and forecast the business productivity effects of enterprise infrastructure, SOA and cloud advances. Our social media vehicles become conversational platforms, powerfully distributed via the BriefingsDirect Network of online media partners like ZDNet and IT-Director.com. As founder and principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, Dana Gardner created BriefingsDirect to give online readers and listeners in-depth and direct access to the brightest thought leaders on IT. Our twice-monthly BriefingsDirect Analyst Insights Edition podcasts examine the latest IT news with a panel of analysts and guests. Our sponsored discussions provide a unique, deep-dive focus on specific industry problems and the latest solutions. This podcast equivalent of an analyst briefing session -- made available as a podcast/transcript/blog to any interested viewer and search engine seeker -- breaks the mold on closed knowledge. These informational podcasts jump-start conversational evangelism, drive traffic to lead generation campaigns, and produce strong SEO returns. Interarbor Solutions provides fresh and creative thinking on IT, SOA, cloud and social media strategies based on the power of thoughtful content, made freely and easily available to proactive seekers of insights and information. As a result, marketers and branding professionals can communicate inexpensively with self-qualifiying readers/listeners in discreet market segments. BriefingsDirect podcasts hosted by Dana Gardner: Full turnkey planning, moderatiing, producing, hosting, and distribution via blogs and IT media partners of essential IT knowledge and understanding.